Thursday, February 20, 2020

Victim Mentality

May we never underestimate the impact of our thoughts and behavior on our children. Especially so, if it is a pattern of repetitive behavior. There is something so powerful about seeing your father and mother doing something. It will inevitably become your pattern unless God helps you to do otherwise. Parents, if you know something is contrary to God’s principles, for the sake of your family, acknowledge that it is wrong. Own your mistake, setting your children free from the same chains that have held you.

How do you handle the problems that come your way? How do you handle rejection? That’s important because your children will most likely respond as you do. Is anger still a problem? Do you find yourself disconnected from your parents? Do you find it difficult to resolve conflicts that arise? Your children will catch your patterns, whether good or bad!

Abraham had a weakness when it came to lying. Twice he lied to important men about his wife because of fear. He told them Sarah was his sister instead of his wife. Not surprisingly, Abraham’s son Isaac lied about his wife in the same way.

Isaac demonstrated learned helplessness when he said Rebekah was his sister instead of his wife. He believed he was a victim and that he could not escape his circumstances. The victim mentality is always paralyzing because it causes us to forget who we are in Christ. It makes us believe that God is small and incapable of helping us in difficult situations. Isaac acted out of fear, which placed him and his family in danger. Understanding that God is always with us alleviates our fear and helps us overcome the temptation to compromise our faith. God’s presence strengthens our commitment to faithfulness.

Victim mentality is very present in marriages today. You can see it by how much blame is deflected on the other. It is so much easier to blame your husband or wife for what is not working. When a person owns their situation, they look for ways to improve the problem instead of blame others. They ask themselves questions like, “How can I help with this problem?” “How can I get through this with a good attitude?”

As believers in Jesus Christ, who believe that God’s presence is always with us to help us and protect us, we have no reason to have a victim mentality. It doesn’t matter what we face; God will be there to accompany us to the other side. The one area that demonstrates God’s presence in our lives so powerfully is our ability to maintain our integrity while resolving our conflicts. If we do this, our children will learn from us about this essential life skill.

The crucial issue is whether or not your children learn to resolve conflict. If they do, they will benefit from it their entire lives. Conflict resolution teaches children the necessary interpersonal skills that are essential in developing healthy relationships. The exposure to conflict is caught by the children and becomes a reciprocal pattern for the whole family. Some children learn the dysfunctional pattern of avoiding conflict and others how to perpetuate it, but strong children learn the essential thing about conflict—how to resolve the friction without blaming others.

Parenting with a Long View

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

God’s Grace

As we look at our world today, questions come to mind. How did humanity become so dangerous and so vicious? Is the world becoming a better place? Is our world safer today than it was fifty years ago? Most of us would say no, of course not. Wipeout ignorance and the world gets better, secularism promises, but we have not seen that happen. Remove economic inequality and we will all live happily, but it doesn’t seem to work. Change our political leaders and our world will improve, but nothing changes the evil in the soul of humanity. What then is at the heart of humanity’s condition? What is the cause of the revolting ways people treat each other that we see everywhere in our world? The Bible addresses humanity’s condition as a sin problem. Nowhere do we see the sin problem more evident than in the study of the people of scripture. They were men and women of faith, but they were also sinful men and women. What made the difference in the lives of the people of scripture? The answer is the marvelous grace of God in the lives of the characters of the Bible—very undeserving grace.

One thing becomes obvious as we study the people of the Bible; they were hopelessly incapable of helping themselves. Take, for example, Isaac and Rebekah’s two sons, Jacob and Esau. Both were self-centered and self-serving. Jacob learned to manipulate people from a young age to get what he wanted. Esau, on the other hand, was driven by his appetites. He lived life as a pursuit of self. Those are two of the greatest weaknesses of all of us in our world today.

Jacob and Esau are pictures of two of the most prevalent problems in humanity today. Esau could not bring himself to believe God’s promises, and therefore he rejected them. Jacob, on the other hand, believed them but could not bring himself to believe that God could make it happen without his help. Thus, Jacob initiated a life of scheming to compensate for his lack of faith.

Esau is typical of many today because he knew nothing about delayed gratification. He lived for the moment. He was impulsive and refused to look ahead; most damming was his rejection of God. Jacob believed God’s promises but refused to believe that God could and would fulfill them without his help. Thus, Jacob became a master schemer who manipulated people while trying to bring about God’s plans. This is our greatest challenge as followers of Christ. We believe God’s promises, but it is so hard to trust that God will bring them about in his own time and his own way. We grow impatient and find it difficult to resist the temptation to make things happen. However, when we do this, we only demonstrate our inability to wait on God.

Esau rejected God’s grace and went his own way, and his life stands as a grave marker of danger to all those who reject God’s grace. When we reject God, we cut ourselves off from his grace. Jacob did not reject God. Though he was undeserving of God’s grace as we all are, he accepted and received that grace. The very idea that God could take someone as flawed as Jacob and change him to be a godly man is a work of grace. This is encouraging because it means God can do that for us.